Ross: Parking duplicity or an honest mix-up in SoDo

Sep 13, 2023, 8:06 AM | Updated: 11:02 am

parking sodo...

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 14: Car parking signs are displayed at Manchester Royal Infirmary on April 14, 2022 in Manchester, England. Free parking in hospital car parks for NHS staff was introduced by the government in July 2020 during the pandemic but ended on March 31, 2022. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

We recently went to see the Immersive Van Gogh Experience in Sodo, which is right next to a parking lot that charges $15 for two hours.

The lot was mostly empty, and as I looked around, I saw there were signs for two parking companies, Diamond Parking and ParkMobile.

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I have the ParkMobile app, so I opened it, and the little blue dot showed that I was in a ParkMobile lot, so I paid online, and we went into the exhibit.

We got immersed in Van Gogh! We got so immersed that we got to the car ten minutes after the parking had expired, and guess what! Under the wiper was a ticket for failing to make “advance payment,” which said I could resolve the matter immediately by going online and paying $65!

And then I saw that the ticket wasn’t from ParkMobile, it was from Diamond Parking! I couldn’t believe it! I had paid the wrong parking company!

And yet, there was a sign right there! The green “ParkMobile” sign! And the ParkMobile app said I was in the right place!

So, I used the QR code on the ticket, filed an online dispute, and Diamond voided the ticket. Thank you, Diamond.

Come to find out that Diamond and ParkMobile have a partnership, so the money did not go to the wrong company after all, which is a happy ending. But I was right on the verge of just coughing up the $65, thinking I had paid the wrong company.

And as I started poking around the Internet for similar experiences, I found I was not the only one confused by the dueling parking signs.

Not only does Diamond use ParkMobile, but so does the City of Seattle. In one of the complaints to the Better Business Bureau, a driver who thought he was paying Diamond found out later his money went to the City. Same app. So Diamond also billed him.

When he disputed the charge, Diamond’s advice was, “We kindly ask for your cooperation in adhering to the correct signage when making payments.” Okay, but the app loads your space number automatically, and when it says, “You’re all set,” you figure you’re all set.

Bottom line, I like online parking. It’s convenient, and the overtime penalty was all my fault because I got immersed (well, it was partly Van Gogh’s fault, but he’s dead).

All I ask is that parking companies at least make it clear whose parking space it is. And it would also be nice if there was an alert warning that the penalty for being ten minutes late is $65.

Unless, as some of the complaints to the Better Business Bureau imply, the confusion is intentional. Which would not be very nice.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Parking duplicity or an honest mix-up in SoDo